TV Geek Review: The Get Down (Season One Part 1)

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Netflix has been on a roll for creating and putting out fresh original content as of late, this summer especially, with the Duffer Brother’s huge hit Stranger Things last month, and now this month’s offering, The Get Down, a huge collaboration between writer/producer Stephen Adly Guirgis (Birdman),  Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet), hip hop legend Nas and an extremely talented cast and crew.    Not long after I heard of Stranger Things, it seemed everyone else discovered it as well, and everyone’s talking about it.   This show, I stumbled across it last week, got hooked on it, and haven’t really heard as much rumblings, but its a show you really should watch, especially if you’re any type of fan of good television, hip hop, disco, or any combination of the three, which this show melds perfectly like a great dj mix.

The show is set in the summer of 1977, in the Bronx in New York City, in the beginnings of hip hop.  Ezekial (Justice Smith-Paper Towns) and his friends Ra Ra (Skylan Brooks-Southpaw) Boo Boo (Tremaine Brown, Jr) and Dizzee (Jaden Smith-The Karate Kid) have a chance encounter with local legend/grafitti artist/aspiring DJ Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore-Dope) that changes all of their lives forever.

That doesn’t really do the show justice, as there’s so much more going on then that in it, it’s an epic 6+ hours of television to be watched here.  There’s crime, murder, mystery, drugs, corruption, sex, and more.  The first episode is a full length movie, at an hour and a half, and my first time watching it it was a lot to take in, but I was hooked nonetheless.

For starters the cast is all top notch, from Justice Smith, to Jaden Smith, and drama veterans Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) and Jimmy Smits (Sons of Anarchy) the casting is phenomenal.      The visuals themselves are quite fantastic as well, fantastic cinematography by William Rexer.   I loved the inroduction of Shaolin Fantastic’s character.  He’s presented as an urban legend A  kung fu ninja of graffiti, like Bruce Lee met with Luke Cage and met Bruce Leroy after that and all fused into one.  I like how they turned one of the originators of hip hop, Grandmaster Flash (played here by Mamadou Athie) into an actual kung fu grandmaster here, dispensing wisdom as well as fresh beats.

The scripts too are top notch, you really get a sense of the hero’s journey in this tale, as hip hop is presented as part kung fu, part Jedi, part superhero in a sense, and it totally works.  I was already a fan of all three things, so the mashup worked well for me.   Some of the dialogue didn’t sound right to me, but some of this slang could be era accurate, I might just be more familiar with it as a more contemporary words.

The soundtrack as well is amazing, you really get a feel for 1977, from disco to soul to rock to early hip hop, it’s something that needs to be heard.  It also helped I watched the majority of the season on a computer or a tablet with headphones so I really felt the music as it was being played, much like how I used to listen to albums in the days when I bought albums and not streamed music, just me and the music, which, as it’s the lifeblood of the show, it enhanced every scene, and made a great show, even greater.

My only real complaint about the show, is that it’s not a full season, it’s part one of the story, and it’s a good stopping point, but I want to see more of it, as soon as possible.    I’ll leave you with the trailer for it, if you haven’t seen it yet, just to give you a taste, and hopefully you’ll enjoy The Get Down as much as I did.  5 out of 5 Stars. *****

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